Shayla Betts

Brinette Jones, M.S.W.

Shayla Betts, M.S.W.

Some people say social work chooses you instead of you choosing it. When I was 16, I went through several personal hardships. At the time I didn’t know where to go to get appropriate help. When I finally resolved the issues, I was determined to be there for other people in their times of need.

I really want to be an advocate for people. I want to be that friend who eases them along when they feel as if they have nowhere else to go. I’m the person who says, “Hey, there’s still a chance. Here are your opportunities. Here’s where you can go.”

I came to Virginia Commonwealth University specifically for social work. I wasn’t sure exactly what area I wanted to go into, but VCU allowed me the opportunity to explore many different avenues, including working with children and adolescents. As a master’s student, I had an internship that extended over nine months. Being there for nearly a year meant I was a lasting presence. I was building relationships with people. I was getting a true taste of social work.

A successful program depends on successful faculty and staff. It’s obvious that the VCU School of Social Work faculty and staff have close relationships with each other and work well as a team. Because of that, they provide a strong support system for students and foster connections with us. The ratio of faculty to students is quite small, so you really get that one-on-one attention.

As a child, I thought I wanted to go into the medical field. But then social work hooked me. My family initially expressed some reservations, but I felt in my spirit that this was the path for me. Now my mom tells me that, even though I may not get paid a lot, she knows I’m going to be a really good social worker. To me, it’s not about the size of the check. It’s the size of the smile.

This is why I’m a social worker.

Shayla Betts built a strong foundation in social work while a student at Virginia Commonwealth University. She earned a B.S.W. degree in 2012 and an M.S.W. degree in 2014, with a focus on school social work that included internships counseling young adults in the Virginia Union University Office of Counseling Services and participating in special education services in Chesterfield County Public Schools. In her most recent role as a behavioral specialist with the Middle Peninsula-Northern Neck Community Services Board in eastern Virginia, she provides school-based crisis intervention and behavioral counseling to at-risk youth and facilitates individual, group and family counseling with students.

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